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Neglected/Abused Cat Behavior?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Ok, to make a long story short, I got divorced last year. My ex fought me in the divorce to keep our cat, Bettis. A few days ago he emailed me to ask me if I wanted him now (almost a year after the divorce was finalized). Now, over the last year, I had moved into my own place and I adopted one cat named Chance, who is now a little over a year old, and I took in an abandon kitten when it was 2 weeks old, his name is Lucky, and he is now 4 months old.

Without much thought, I told my ex that yes, my boyfriend and I would take in Bettis as well. I picked him up today, and to say the very least, this is not the same cat behavior wise as I left last year. I feel absolutely horrible for not fighting harder to get to keep him, but am happy to have him back.

I expected for him to be scared, and to not like the other two cats, and am keeping them separated, but Bettis is acting completely strange. He will rub against me, but while doing it he growls almost constantly. When I reach down and attempt to pet him, he will start to hiss. I am trying to take it slow, and do this on his terms, but at one point he jumped on the couch with me, laid down on me, and turned around and bit me, when I wasn't even touching him.

My ex told me he was never home with the cat, and that the cat recently had been going to the bathroom on things in his house. After repeated attempts to pet him today, I have found that he is ok with his head being pet, and around his front legs, but when you get near his back legs he starts growling a lot, and then the hissing begins. After that starts if you lift your hand and try to reach back for his head, he then cowers away from your hand. I'm afraid that my ex may have hit him for going to the bathroom in the house.

What I am hoping is for any suggestions from those of you out there on how to possibly help Bettis adjust to us, and to our home. As well as how to, once he has adjusted to us, if he ever does, how we should do the introduction to the other two. I feel horrible locking them away, but, considering the two of them combined weigh around 12 lbs, and Bettis is over 14lbs of all muscle, I'm very afraid to leave them all together for awhile...

Any and all suggestions are appreciated!! I'm typically really good with cats, and am at a loss as to what to do, let alone crushed by the thought of what my ex may have done to him. Please help!

post #2 of 8
The very first thing I would do is take him to a vet for a thorough checkup. If he was going to the bathroom outside the box he may well have a urinary tract infection or crystals which would explain his hissing when you try to touch his hind end. Cats are wonderful at hiding pain so if he is showing signs of any discomfort then he is probably in considerable pain. I'm just guessing here, but a vet visit could put your mind at ease as to his health and then you could work on his behaviour with patience, kindness and gentleness to let him know he's in a better place.
post #3 of 8
Hi and welcome! It sounds like Bettis has gone through a lot in the past year, as well as you. If your ex has admitted to spending little if any time with the kitty, then Bettis' litter was most likely not kept clean and I have never met a kitty who doesn't protest to a dirty litter box!
He also may very well be upset with you, feeling you had abandoned him. Then suddenly you have him back with other kitties already existing in a completely new home. It is very sad that your ex fought you for him for what sounds like spite, then ignored him and cause and effect misbehavior, and then wants to get rid of him.
Keep the kitties separated, give Bettis space and time, separate litter, food and water. Hopefully everything will smooth over in time........
post #4 of 8
i adopted my male, Chip, almost 3 years ago [it'll be 3 years this coming March] & he had some very similar behaviors... most noticeably, the growling/hissing/biting whenever touched behind the head. i assumed he'd had his tail pulled - because if you got anywhere near it, he'd try to bite [he was also declawed]. after almost 3 years, i can stroke him anywhere but the tummy w/almost no problems. tummy touching [when he's on his back] is still not allowed but i can pet him pretty much anywhere else.
i think once Bettis has regained his trust in you, he'll be the same. Chip still won't let anyone but me touch him behind his head w/o attempting to bite the toucher.
post #5 of 8
I agree to get him vet checked ASAP. Males are prone to blocking up - if the "going outside the box" was indeed a UTI - and male cats when blocked have died. I'm a spaz about that, but I've seen a kitty brought into the shelter that was within inches of death due to blocking up from an untreated UTI. You can also have the vet give him a thorough exam to see if there is a physical reason he doesn't want his backhalf touched.
post #6 of 8
Welcome for getting back your kitty. You have gotten some great advice. I am sorry he has changed so much, hopefully with a good vet check and time and love he will come back around and be happier than ever.
post #7 of 8
I agree, a trip to the vet... he may have some medical problems that are causing pain when he's petted.

Once you've gotten any health issues fixed, then just give him time and take the introductions gradually. Personally, I wouldn't worry or speculate about what happened to him before, since pity doesn't help the cat or owner.

Cats are very territorial. Just the change of environment, owners, and a strange new cat are stressful enough for him to be acting strange. Give it time (at least several months), and he'll settle in and become comfortable in his new home.
post #8 of 8
I second (third, fourth?) the vet trip just to be safe.

I wouldn't read too much into his behavior just now. It's only his first day in your house and moving territories is a big, scary event for kitties. If he's still acting this way in a few months I'd have some questions but for now, his behavior actually seems normal to me. He's lost his territory and now he's in a new one where he's basically trapped with two stranger kitties. He can't get away from them and his biting you may be a result of feeling he has to defend himself from the other cats. I bet he'll settle in soon.

In the meantime, there are some great threads here about introducing new cats. Read up on those so you can help him adjust quickly! Also, add a Feliway Comfort Zone diffuser or two. You can find those on Amazon. They'll help with the transitions.

Welcome in and good luck with all your kitties!
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